165 Myanmar border guards who fled to Bangladesh board homebound ship

As many as 302 border guards, four of their family members, two soldiers, 18 immigration officials and four civilians are set to return home

Cox's Bazar Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 15 Feb 2024, 04:08 AM
Updated : 15 Feb 2024, 04:08 AM

The process of repatriating 330 people, mostly members of the Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) who fled into Bangladesh to escape an ongoing conflict between military forces and insurgents, is underway in Cox's Bazar.

The group includes 302 Border Guard Police personnel, four of their family members, two army men, 18 immigration officials and four civilians.

A delegation from Myanmar is in Cox's Bazar's Inani to oversee the handover process on Thursday.

Between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm, 165 people were transferred from the Inani jetty in Cox's Bazar to a Myanmar ship in the deep sea. The others will be handed over in the afternoon.

According to the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), the Myanmar nationals took shelter in two schools in Cox's Bazar's Teknaf and Bandarban's Ghumdhum.

They were transported to the Bangladesh Navy jetty in Inani by 12 buses around 7:30 am.

A Myanmar Navy ship is stationed off the maritime border to take the group home. A tourist ship will transfer the BGP members and their families to the navy vessel.

After a roll call and identification of the BGP members, the two sides completed the necessary documentation before beginning the boarding process.

The BGB director general and the Myanmar ambassador to Bangladesh, accompanied by officials from both nations, are overseeing the process amid heightened security.

Police, the Rapid Action Battalion, BGB, and Coast Guard personnel have been deployed to ensure a safe handover process.

WHAT LED TO THE CONFLICT?

In 2021, the Myanmar military overthrew the elected civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup. In late October 2023, three ethnic rebel groups in Myanmar joined forces to launch a coordinated offensive against the junta forces.

These groups are the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Arakan Army (AA), and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).

These groups have engaged in armed conflict with the Myanmar military in the states of Shan, Rakhine, Chin and Kayah. The rebels have successfully taken over several important areas and army posts.

The Arakan Army, an armed force of a minority ethnic group in the western state of Rakhine, is fighting for greater autonomy for Rakhine.

The conflict between the army and insurgents has been spilling over and affecting communities across the border.

At the end of August and start of September 2022, there were incidents of shelling from Myanmar warplanes that crossed the border into Bangladesh. Helicopters also entered Bangladesh territory.

Over the last few weeks, residents in Tumbru border area in Bandarban's Naikhongchhari Upazila have been gripped by panic, with gunshots regularly ringing out from the Myanmar side.

Gunfire and mortar shells also reached Bangladeshi territory, hitting homes, and killing two people, including a woman.

Many people from border areas fled, seeking refuge in safer locations.

Dhaka then summoned the country’s ambassador to register its protest and express condemnation and concern over these incidents.